Tasted with Mlle Camus in Gevrey-Chambertin, 25 April 2018. Pictured above, looking towards the east and the Route des Grands Crus, to the left the Latricières vines of Camus, to the right the newly ploughed vines of Rossignol-Trapet in Aux Combottes.
Domaine Camus Père et Fils
21 rue Mal de Lattre de Tassigny
Tel. +33 (0)3 80 34 30 64
Domaine Camus have, today, the largest plot of vines in Latricières-Chambertin – amounting to 1.51 hectares. It is the southern-most plot in Latricières, neighbouring Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Aux Combottes. The plot was purchased in 1904 when the Savot family decided to sell their large 3 hectare plot of vines – the sale of the Savot plot was shared between the Camus and Trapet families.
Mlle Camus notes from the deeds of the sale that their part of this transaction was actually an exchange of vines rather than an outright purchase – Camus used to hold vines in Vosne-Romanée La Rivière which were exchanged with Savot. It is possible that phylloxera had accelerated the Savot family’s exit from these vines, that or the fact that they had just one daughter to take on the estate – yet both of those explanations are at odds with them taking on new vines in Vosne-Romanée!
The plot of Camus is the first plot from the south of the vineyard and borders Gevrey’s 1er Aux Combottes, and contains the only separate climat within Latricières – 0.45 hectares called Aux Combottes. Today this is grand cru Latricières-Chambertin, but from the cadastre map of 1860 this was clearly a plot within Aux Combottes, not Latricières – a time when both were classed as premier-cuvées. Matt Kramer in his book ‘Making Sense of Burgundy‘ opines that the “1.1-acre slice of Aux Combottes was included in Latricières-Chambertin during the Appellation Contrôlée deliberations, which inclusion makes one suspect heavy-duty political lobbying at the time on the part of its owner, Domaine Léon Camus Père et Fils.” But this seems unlikely, because looking through the paperwork of the 1904 sale, the totality of the 1.51 hectares bought by Camus was already named in the documents as 1.51 hectares of Latricières-Chambertin – some 34 years before AOC when Latricières-Chambertin became a grand cru. But the climat of Aux Combottes endures on the maps of today – even though it is no-longer used, as the place is classed as Latricières grand cru.
The domaines of Camus and Trapet created the (in theory private, though it seems well-used!) small vineyard road that now runs through the middle of the old Savot plot and today forms the border between their two exploitations. “We can see that we exploit slightly less than the amount which came from the Savot transaction, so that must be the road. We don’t have much soil in Latricières and it’s a hard rock below. The higher part of Latricières resembles Chambertin, but we see a little extra concentration at the bottom of the plot. There is certainly a tendency for later harvesting here – on the other side of the road we have our Charmes-Chambertin and here we always harvest earlier. We definitely have more character in the wine from Latricières when compared to our Charmes – Latricières approaches Chambertin, qualitatively.”
As for the age of the domaine’s vines, it’s not really possible to say how old they are with any accuracy “All our replacements are done by ‘repicage‘ so its hard to say the average age of the vines but our estimate is about 40-years-old. We don’t want to spoil the balance of the wines by replanting large sections. Our Chambertin has the highest average age, which we would put at about 60.”
Camus are an old-style domaine, offering to taste only what they are currently selling – and at the moment, it is the 2013 vintage. The average quality of their wines is rather modest in comparison to that of the other proprietors – and this is the effect of their choices in the cuverie, not their work in the vines or yields. However, it is always important to point out that the prices of this domaine are less than half of that of most of the other proprietors – and that (currently) makes this a very interesting bottle for €50, if a very modest Latricières:
2013 Camus, Latricières-Chambertin
A nose with a little green about it, but just tipping the balance towards mint rather than herbaceousness – with extended aeration the herb is gone, leaving a modest red fruit. Light across the palate but it’s complex too. A volume of cushioned, airy, focused red-fruited flavour. Long finishing young wine. Not the concentration of most grand crus – more a (still) modest 1er cru level – but it was open and complex finishing. A good wine, poor Latricières-Chambertin.